Monday, June 3, 2013

Grae's 1st birthday party

Last weekend we traveled to Branson to celebrate Grae's 1st birthday. It's hard to believe that little man is already a year old! Where does the time go??  He has been such a blessing and its been our privilege watching Scarlett grow into such a wonderful mommy!

We were greeted at the front door with a Dr Seuss birthday sign, I'm sure you can all see where this is going... how cool is that?

The main table was playful and full of color. I made some sugar cookies for the party that were very popular with the toddler crowd!

Scarlett had balloons for the little ones and the facility had a pool for people to cool off in.  Everyone had a great time socializing and watching the birthday boy run around.


Finally it was time for the main event -  presents and cake.  Grae did great at opening his presents.  He seemed to enjoy handing everyone the paper from the presents more than the actual presents!

I think the most memorable moment of any 1st birthday party is the smash cake.  You never know what they are going to do?  You've got the, "OMG what is all over my hands and why isn't mom fussing over me???", the "I'm all in, literally face first opportunist" and the "I'm totally going to regret this later, but its sooooo good!!!"  I think Grae was unsure what to do...
For awhile he seemed more interested in escaping from his chair,
but then he got his cake. 
He hesitated at first, but after the first bite...
 he literally dug in. He had cake EVERYWHERE!  But he was happy!

We had a great day celebrating this amazing little guy!  I wanted to leave you all with one more picture from the day.  We found it as we were going through all the pictures and I think it sums up how mothers can feel some days!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Family Time

It has been awhile since I’ve blogged.  It is not that we haven’t done anything blog worthy, but I realized that I do not do the best job at photographing our adventures.  I always thought I took lots of pictures.  Not as many as my wonderful friend Alayna, but still plenty of pictures.  I also realized that when I do take pictures I get a number of duds.  They just do not do our outings justice.  I am going to work on getting better at picture taking or get better at convincing Aaron to take the pictures!  Now that we got that out of the way, on to this week’s blog post:

This April we were lucky enough to get to spend some quality time with our family.  At the beginning of the month, we participated in the American Heart Walk with Aaron’s parents and my mother.  I mentioned in earlier post how important the Heart Walk is to our families.  My mother is still recovering her heart surgery and Aaron’s parents have also been affected by heart disease.  This race was extra special because it was the first time we got to walk with both families. 

The point of the Heart Walk is to participate in the actual walk.  But my mom thinks it is to get all the freebies at the vendor tables.  I think she was planning on heading to the tables when we got there instead of walking.  She was highly disappointed that they had the vendor area blocked off until after the race started.  It did not help that the walk was behind schedule because they had so many people participating (a good problem to have) and the traffic was backed up to the bypass.  She decided that she was going to stand by the gate looking into the “promise land.”  She reminded us of Mollie when she wants in the house.  We could not stop laughing.

Finally the walk started.  Mom and I did have to turn around part way because she is still having issues with her breathing, but she gets better every week.  She perked up when she noticed that the vendor area was open.  We went through all the booths in 20 minutes and before Aaron and his parents finished the walk.  She walked away with enough snacks for a month. 

Mom even had time to take a picture with the Bimbo bear!

Everyone had a great time raising awareness for a cause that is close to our hearts (pun intented)!

When mom and I traveled to Hot Springs we got to spend time with my sister Kristine, her daughter Gyna and her granddaughter Annie.  We started the evening out with a strange dinner at Chili’s.  It was the 2nd to last weekend for the horse races, a state cheerleading competition and prom for a few schools.  They were very busy!  But it gave us time to talk and take a few pictures while we waited. 

Annie is very shy so it took her a little bit to warm up to us.  She is so adorable and has the sweetest little voice.  She looks just like her momma at that age.

She loved getting to see her Grammy!  She held mom’s hand all night.  Mom loved it!

We ended the evening with Annie opening her Christmas presents.  Yes I know that we are a little late, but we love getting to see the excitement in her face when she opens them.  Annie loves fairies and Barbie.  Mom got her the cutest fairy costume and a carrier for her Barbie outfits and a jewelry box that had Tinkerbell on the top.

I love this picture that I took.  It is 4 generations of our family.  They are such beauties and I am proud to call them family!

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful time hosting my sister Scarlett and her little man Grae.  They arrived on Saturday and we had mom and Stacey over for dinner.   Everyone was smitten with Grae.  He is already such a flirt!

While Scarlett was smitten with Mom’s pedicure and sandals!

The next day we got up nice and early for church and afterwards a nice lunch at Shoguns

After lunch Scarlett and I headed out for a girl's spa day while Aaron and Grae spent some quality boy time together! 

Grae loved hanging out with Uncle Aaron and looking at Mollie out the window!

Before they left for home we got to see something amazing…Grae walking for the first time (with the help of a box)!

I had such a great time spending time with just Scarlett and me.  We have not had the opportunity to do it that much since we both became adults.  I look forward to many more visits from Scarlett and Grae!

Family is so important to Aaron and I so it was such a treat to get to visit with so many during the month of April!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Trip down Memory Lane

It has been a while since I blogged and as I was getting ready to leave for my 2nd trip to the horse races, I was worried that this post would be a repeat of the last.  I realized as soon as we arrived that this was not going to be the case.  There are those places dear to us because they hold special memories.  Hot Springs and Oaklawn are two such places for my mother and I.  It is the town that I was raised in and where my mother and father made a life until his passing in 94'.  Even though we have been back numerous times since relocating to NWA we always focused on making new memories, i.e. spending the night at the Arlington, visiting the bathhouses and exploring new restaurants that weren't around when we lived there. In retrospect, I think we did this because the memories & experiences from our time with dad were still too fresh.  We used to go to the Arlington for brunch at least once a month when dad was still with us.  A few years back mom and I decided go to brunch but it felt like something was missing, it took me a week to get rid of that feeling.

This experience was something totally different.  We were finally able to celebrate those wonderful memories of my father from our past.  Growing up, my parents were always going to the races during live season.  I can remember sitting on my father's lap at the kitchen counter while they studied the racing forms the night before.  He taught me to read the odds, notes, and history on the horses.  It was never about the money they were betting, but more about the thrill of picking a winner (or multiple winners)!  Even though it had been 20 years since my mom had been to the races, when we walked in it was like no time had passed since her last visit.  She immediately went into the routine I remember her and my father having when we got to the races:  get your racing form, program, tip sheet, Oaklawn pencil and start studying the first 2 races.

We ended up staying for only a few races, but it was so great to see my mom enjoying connecting to all those memories we had at Oaklawn with my father.  We felt like he was there with us and even laughing a little when we lost the first three races including the race where our horse lost his rider!

Before we left Hot Springs we decided to stop at Weldon's Meat market.  My mom and dad went there every week for steaks.  We finished up at Ambrosia bakery for their famous Italian Cream Cake, braided bread loaf and Lavash.  Both places had the same wonderful customer service and food that I remember from my childhood. 
It has been almost 20 years since my dad left us and this trip to Hot Springs was so special to me because for the first time we were able to celebrate my father's memory in the places he enjoyed. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Off to the Races

This year for Christmas we decided to give our parents a trip to Hot Springs and a day at the races. I grew up around Oaklawn and even worked there as a teenager selling popcorn and ice cream, but this was the first visit for Aaron and my in-laws. 

 Every time we travel to Hot Springs we always have to stop at Burl's Smokehouse.  It has been there as long as I can remember.  We always get some beef jerky and smoked beef sticks.  Disclaimer:  The beef jerky is not as good as Aaron's, but still pretty good.  What I really love about the place is the antiques and Native American artifacts.  The owner has everything from an old photo booth
to a stuffed deer in hunting gear
and even an old Arkansas outhouse (unused)!

After our quick pit stop we finally made it to Oaklawn in time for the 2nd race.  Most people know that I love to watch the horses run, study the stats, and pick a winner, but I am very cheap when it comes to the actual betting.  So I was more than happy to give everyone my tips and let them make the bets.  Apparently I should not quit my day job to start predicting horse race because I am the only person who did not pick a winner!
We watched the majority of the races from the inside seats where it was nice and warm, but I was able to talk them into going outside for the last race.  While everyone else was placing their bets we were able to grab a spot and take some pictures by the Finish Line
It was worth being out in the cold to get up and close to the race.  I love when they play the bugle for post time and to watch the horse load up into the starting gate.
The real exciting of the day is when the announcer yells "AND THEY ARE OFF!"  I learned from my mother that is when you are suppose to start jumping up and down and yelling.  According to her it helps make the horses run faster! 
We finished the night by hitting the casino.  I left with an additional $10 in my pocket and enjoyed all the free diet cokes I wanted while we were there.  I was in heaven!  Of course we could not leave Hot Springs without a stop at our favorite breakfast location on Sunday morning.
The funny thing is that I did not go to the Pancake Shop much when I lived in Hot Springs, but I always make sure to go when I visit.  Everyone had the blueberry pancakes and we all shared a ham steak.  You are missing out if you have not had one of their ham steaks.  Just remember they only take cash.  You don't want to have to do dishes to pay your bill!
We had a great time in Hot Springs hanging with family and making memories that will last a lifetime.